Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Chris Smalling and summer signing Victor Lindelof will start in defence against Basel in the first Champions League fixture of the 2017/18 season.
United will be without the services of Eric Baily and Phil Jones for their suspension. Bailly was handed a three-match ban for his red card in last season’s Europa League final against Celta Vigo.
Phil Jones, on the other hand, is on suspension for two European matches for verbally abusing a Doping Control officer following the Red Devils’ 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final. The England defender and Bailly also missed the club UEFA Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid in August, while the duo were also suspended for the Europa League final.
Mourinho has started with Bailly and Jones in all of his side’s Premier League fixtures. However, the Portuguese boss was critical of Jones’ performance in the Red Devils’ 2-2 draw against Stoke City on Saturday (9 September) and revealed that Smalling and Lindelof will start against Basel.
“It is not the moment to speak, he [Jones] knows the mistake. He doesn’t need me to go in to speak with him about it, so no problem,” Mourinho explained, as quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“Mistakes are part of the game, he’s playing well for us, he’s probably tired after two consequent matches with the national team but he cannot play Tuesday so it is good that he gets his rest and opportunity for Lindelof and Smalling to play a Champions League match.”
After winning the first three league matches, United dropped points against Stoke at bet365 Stadium. Mourinho admitted that he was “not satisfied” with a point against Mark Hughes’ side.
“I’m not satisfied with a point because we were the team closer to winning. I have to say it is a result I accept though,” the former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager explained.
“One team tried to win, one team tried to get the point but they fought hard to get that point – they defended well, they counter-attacked and in set-pieces they are powerful.”